Tuesday, July 13, 2010

War, Spaghetti-Os, and the GoGirl @ Bedtime...

Bedtimes are often exhausting in my house.

There are three sets of teeth to brush, pajamas to change into, blankets and dolls and cups to locate. And it seems that often, they all save their day's worth of questions for those 15 minutes when I'm trying desperately to shift from kid-time to Mommy-time. I think they've discovered that it's in those 15 minutes or so, that inevitably drags out into half an hour or more, that I'm more likely to answer their questions directly, instead of shifting my answers into kidspeak.

Last night, the four of us are squeezed into the black and white bathroom on the second floor.
Isabelle stands on the blue plastic stool in front of the sink, rubbing her big toes against each other in a scritching noise that sets my teeth on edge. Baz leans against the edge of the clawfoot tub, trying to balance himself without toppling in, and I bite my tonge against reminding him he'll get hurt if he falls. Sophie hops gingerly from one foot to the other, board to thick, wooden board, waiting impatiently for her turn at the sink. I urge the kids to hurry with soft tapping slaps of my flip flops against the floor. "C'mon guys, get a move on"

"Why?" Baz asks in a taunting voice.

"Do we need to get to bed so Daaaaaa-aaaaan can come over?"
And he says it the way fifth grade boys would say it...sing-songy in it's almost-derision.

"No," I reply. "Dan's out of the country, remember? He's in Afghanistan"

"Oh" is the succinct reply, accompanied by a small eye-roll.

"Why's that" Sophie chirps in, still hopping steadily, left foot..right foot..left foot...hippity hop
|He's there for work, being the simplest answer I could provide.

"Yeah, because he's Army" Baz nods sagely at his sister.

"Buy why's he there?" she pauses mid-hop to ask.

"Because there's fightinggggg" he answers, drawing out the G in annoyance.

"But why?" Seeing an inevitable pattern, I interrupt, explaining that fighting between countries, and in countries between people, is much the same as fighting between the three of them over a toy they all want, or control they all want (of a game board, of the remote, of my attention).

"But, but" Isabelle stutters, toothpaste spittle arcing out across my once-clean mirror. "It's not our toys or presidents or anything. Why are OUR army there?"

To this I can only shrug, bowing to her young wisdom, and try to explain that, in the same way that a Mommy has to step in a break up a fight, sometimes our army has to step in a calm things down and restore order. It's the best I can muster at 7:45 in the evening, and they seem to digest that well enough.

I make Isabelle say cheese and show me her teeth post-brushing, and I find remains of Spaghetti-O sauce on her chin. Wetting the corner of a hand towel I mutter about the three of them and stains lasting through nuclear apocalypse while lifting Belle by the armpits and swapping her out for Sophie on the stool, knowing tonight's not the night to enforce the age-order rule.

"Where do Spaghetti-O's come from, Momma?" the Monkey chirps as I swoop in to grab the overflowing toothpaste tube from her rigid clutches.

"From a factory" I reply pragmatically.

"But how do the get the holes in the middle then?" Isabelle asks.

They enjoy in mocking me, I can tell. They know I don't have the answers to these questions, and it's like a game, to see who can stump me first. But it's Baz to the rescue tonight with a convoluted explanation of giant machines that stamp out the holes in each Spaghetti-O, sending the middle parts to another factory that makes food for animals at the zoo. Somehow he's decided that the monkeys and the hyenas like spaghetti-Os. Leave it to the boy to take a simple answer and make it complicated. But who am I to argue with him, really?

Sophie, brushing through his explanation, decides she's done and hops down from the stool, toothpaste mustache still very much in evidence.

Hopping in earnest now, she rushes up to the toilet, then stops.

"Mommmmmm?" she asks, dropping trow in the process. "Why can't I go peeps standing up like Bazzy does?"

I start to toss an explanation over my shoulder, applying toothpaste liberally to Baz's brush, that girls just aren't built like that. I half turn and see her standing before the toilet, a look of intense concentration on her face...

"NO!" we all three shout almost in unison as she scoots her little legs (Didn't there used to be more baby fat there? Why does it always disappear when I'm not looking?) closer to the bowl. I'm sure she's going to attempt it, knowing also that I won't be able to get there in time to stop it.
Instead, she simply smirks at me in the way only three-year-olds know how, turns, and scoots herself up at the last second.

"I'm gonna try it one day" she insists. I carefully avoid answering that one and softly hum Happy Birthday twice through while Baz brushes.

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